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pressure in ear

What Can Cause Pressure In Ears?

Have you ever felt a feeling of pressure in the ears? Ear pressure can manifest as a sensation of fullness, discomfort, or even pain. 

If so, you may have experienced a common condition known as ear pressure. 

Pressure in ear can occur for many reasons, including fluid buildup in the middle ear, changes in altitude, or an ear infection. Understanding what causes pressure in the ear

 and how to alleviate it can help you find relief and prevent further complications. 

Causes of Pressure in Ears 

Pressure in the ears can be an uncomfortable and bothersome sensation that can be triggered by various factors including: 

Changes in pressure or altitude

The most common causes of experiencing pressure in the ears are related to changes in altitude or pressure, such as scuba diving, flying on an airplane, or driving up the mountains. During the said activities, the pressure between the ears and the environment can be imbalanced, leading to pain or discomfort. 


Allergies can trigger a variety of health concerns, including pressure in the ears. When the body reacts to an allergen, such as dust, pollen, or animal dander, the immune system releases chemicals that can trigger inflammation and buildup in the Eustachian tube and nasal passages. This, in turn, can lead to a feeling of fullness or pressure in the ears.

Fortunately, there are several ways to ease the pressure in the ears caused by allergies including nasal sprays, decongestants, and OTC allergy medications. If you experience persistent or severe symptoms of allergy-related ear pressure, please seek medical attention from an audiologist for proper diagnosis and treatment. 

Fluid buildup

Another cause of ear pressure is fluid buildup in the middle ear. This may be attributed to a cold, allergies, or sinus infections. The fluid buildup can trigger a feeling of fullness or pressure in the ear, and if left untreated, may lead to ear infections and other unpleasant complications.

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder

This is a less common cause of ear pressure, affecting the joint connecting the jawbone to the skull. 

Eustachian tube dysfunction

This occurs when the tube connecting the middle ear to the back of the throat gets inflamed or blocked. 

Regardless of the cause, experiencing pressure in the ears can be an uncomfortable and frustrating condition. It is best to seek medical attention to alleviate the symptoms. 

Earwax buildup

When earwax builds up and hardens, it can cause pressure in the ears and lead to temporary hearing loss, discomfort, and infection. Pressure in ears caused by earwax buildup can be treated with earwax softening drops, ear flushing, and manual removal.

Avoid inserting cotton swabs or other objects into the ear because they can worsen the problem. Put simply, do not insert anything in the ear canal in an attempt to remove earwax.

If you are experiencing pressure in the ear and symptoms of earwax buildup, get medical attention from an audiologist who can determine the cause and recommend appropriate treatment. 

In some cases, excessive earwax buildup and pressure in the ears may indicate an underlying medical condition that requires further evaluation.

Easing Pressure in the Ears: How is ear barotrauma treated? 

Medically speaking, the pressure in the ears is referred to as ear barotrauma. A variety of methods depending on the severity and cause of the condition are available. 

For mild cases, these simple remedies may help:

  • Yawning or swallowing: Yawning or swallowing frequently helps open up the Eustachian tube, equalizing middle ear pressure.
  • Chewing gum: Chewing gum can help induce the swallowing reflex and equalize ear pressure.
  • Nasal sprays or decongestants: Over-the-counter nasal sprays or decongestants can help reduce inflammation in the ears and clear the nasal passages, allowing for better equalization of ear pressure and drainage.
  • Warm compress: A warm compress can help reduce pain and discomfort in the affected ear.

For more severe cases of pressure in the ears, an audiologist may refer to an Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) physician. An ENT can recommend medications, such as antibiotics or steroids, to treat underlying infections or reduce inflammation. In some cases, a surgical procedure may be necessary to relieve persistent symptoms.

How an audiologist can help with pressure in ears

An audiologist can play a crucial role in assessing and managing issues related to pressure in the ears. Here are several ways in which an audiologist can help:

  1. Hearing Evaluation:
    Audiologists are trained to conduct comprehensive hearing evaluations. If pressure in the ears is accompanied by hearing difficulties, an audiologist can assess the extent of hearing loss and help determine the underlying cause.
  2. Tympanometry:
    Tympanometry is a test that measures the movement of the eardrum in response to changes in air pressure. This can help identify issues such as eustachian tube dysfunction, middle ear infections, or fluid behind the eardrum.
  3. Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) Testing:
    OAE testing assesses the function of the inner ear (cochlea) by measuring the response of the hair cells in the inner ear. It can help identify problems with the cochlea that may contribute to ear pressure issues.
  4. Balance Assessment:
    If the pressure in the ears is associated with balance problems, an audiologist can conduct tests to assess the vestibular system, which plays a key role in balance and spatial orientation.
  5. Educating on Eustachian Tube Function:
    Audiologists can provide education on the function of the eustachian tubes and offer advice on practices that may help alleviate pressure, such as yawning, swallowing, or the Valsalva maneuver.
  6. Tinnitus Management:
    If pressure in the ears is accompanied by tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in the ears), audiologists can provide counseling and implement strategies to manage tinnitus symptoms.
  7. Hearing Aid Fitting and Rehabilitation:
    For individuals with hearing loss contributing to ear pressure, audiologists can recommend and fit hearing aids, providing rehabilitation and support for adjusting to amplification.
  8. Referral to Other Specialists:
    Depending on the specific symptoms and findings, an audiologist may refer individuals to other healthcare professionals, such as an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist, for further evaluation and management.

It’s important to note that while audiologists play a key role in evaluating and managing certain aspects of ear pressure, they may work collaboratively with other healthcare professionals to address the broader range of issues that could be contributing to the symptoms. If you are experiencing pressure in your ears, it’s advisable to seek the guidance of a healthcare professional for a thorough evaluation and appropriate management.

Pressure in Ear: Possible Complications 

We recommend seeking medical attention if you experience persistent or severe pressure in the ears because it can lead to more serious complications. Taking proactive steps to address ear pressure can help improve overall ear health and prevent future pain or discomfort. 

Audiologists in Abilene, TX

Experiencing pressure in the ears or other hearing concerns? We can help!

Abilene Audiology Co. offers comprehensive hearing healthcare services in Littleton, CO to ensure that your hearing is always at its best.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment!

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